Remember back in the day, when the only way to book travel was through an actual travel agent? I remember when we used to travel, my dad would liaise with his travel agent friend, and once the trip was confirmed he would receive this giant envelope containing paper tickets in a little cheque book, that we would then produce at the airport. Travel was so expensive and inaccessible back then. I remember before we would go overseas, our entire extended family would come to our house the night before, and to the airport the day of, to “see us off.” Almost as if there was a risk we wouldn’t come back!
Once low cost airlines entered the market, local travel became a lot cheaper and more accessible. It’s crazy to think how we were ripped off previously, because suddenly even the larger more established airlines slashed their prices. Even though local travel was easier, international travel still remained a barrier – with no real way to find affordable fares – apart from looking out for special deals from certain airlines.
Once fare compare sites launched, it was a game changer. Finally, you could enter your dates and route and have ALL the airlines come up. Or, you could be flexible on dates and find the best deal, and choose your dates based on that. I think the airlines also got a wake up call, because now prices are a lot more competitive, and prices across different airlines seem to be similar.
Until now, this fare compare functionality has been limited to flights, hotels and cars. Travelstart has recently launched a new feature, Travelstart buses, which allows fare compare on several different bus routes and operators, including Intercity Xpress, Eagle Liner, Greyhound, Intercape and Citiliner. You can filter by price, and by ticket type, and the tool will serve you the cheapest fare for a return or one-way route within South Africa, or to neighbouring countries.
Bus travel can be way easier than flying – you don’t need to trek to the airport and show up 1-2 hours earlier, 30 mins will suffice, and even though the duration is longer, you have a more comfortable seat, and the fares are generally way cheaper than flying. Luggage allowances are also more generous and there are seldom delays like with flights. If you sleep well, you can get on an overnight bus, go to sleep, and wake up in a new city. It’s also friendlier on the environment and reduces congestion. Also, bus stations are usually located closer to the city center than airports, and most times there are a few bus stations within a city, so you can pick the one that is closest to your home.
So, next time you’re planning a getaway – definitely use a fare compare site to make sure you’re getting the best deal, but also consider other modes of transport like bus, you might save yourself money that can be used at your destination, rather than getting there!